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But what's the catch?

You're probably familiar with the saying "But there's a catch..." According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, it means that there is a "concealed difficulty or complication" in a situation. There is a similar saying in German, but instead of the noun for "catch," it uses the German word for the noun "hook": der Haken. 


First, let's take a look at the pronunciation. You want to really open your mouth wide with an "ah" sound when pronouncing this word:


Im Wort „Haken“ ist das „A“ lang.

In the word “hook,” the “A” is long.

Caption 32, Deutsch mit Eylin: Das Alphabet

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Now let's take a look at how  der Haken  is used idiomatically in the form einen Haken haben:


Dieses Kompliment seiner Frau ist schön, hat allerdings auch einen Haken.

This compliment by his wife is nice, however, it also has a catch.

Caption 19, Theater: Mörderische Phantasien

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Die Sache hat einen Haken.

In this matter, there's a catch.

Caption 24, Küss mich, Frosch: Die Zeiten haben sich geändert

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You can also use the form ein Haken an etwas sein:


Ein Haken an der Sache ist der Preis: In der Hauptsaison zahlt eine vierköpfige Familie für die Lodgesuite am Gardasee pro Woche 1.400 Euro.

One catch with the whole thing is the price: During the peak season, a family of four pays 1,400 euros per week for the lodge suite on Lake Garda.

Captions 36-38, Glamping: Camping mit Stil

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Of course, ein Haken is also used in the literal sense to mean "a hook":


Unten am Fluss hängte er zuerst einen Wurm an den Haken und dann die Angel ins Wasser.

Down by the river, he first hung a worm on the hook and then cast the line into the water.

Captions 14-15, Janoschs Traumstunde: Post für den Tiger

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Ein solcher Fall ereignete sich, als sich ein Delfin in den Gewässern von Kona, Hawaii, einem Taucher näherte, weil ein Haken an seiner Flosse hing.

One such case occurred when a dolphin approached a diver in the waters of Kona, Hawaii, because a hook was attached to its fin.

Captions 14-16, Die 12 freundlichsten Meerestiere der Welt

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Der Delfin positionierte sich so vor dem Taucher, dass dieser den Haken entfernen konnte.

The dolphin positioned itself in front of the diver so that he could remove the hook.

Captions 17-18, Die 12 freundlichsten Meerestiere der Welt

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You'll note that "hook" is related to fishing. One easy way to remember this idiom is that "catch" is related to catching fish, which can be done with a hook. And that, dear Yabla readers, is der Haken!


Further Learning
Go to Yabla German and see the above examples in context. You can also make up some sentences of the saying using the forms einen Haken haben and ein Haken an etwas sein and have your teacher check them.

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